N++, it just screams indie but it’s more than just a name; it represents a pure form of gaming. From its clean minimalistic hi-res graphics to its chilled out soundtrack, the PS4 gets a true indie gem in every sense of the word from the guys at Metanet.
I never knew about N, and I totally missed N+ back in my PSP days, so I was looking forward to playing N++ blind for my review. I’d followed announcements but kept away from any in-depth reporting or videos to keep the game factory fresh.
When you first load up N++ you are treated to an almost Aliens/Bladerunner style corporate logo with a random music track fading in and PRESS X emblazoned underneath. The same art direction follows with the main menu. Lo-fi hi-res throughout with some exceptional animations demoed from random levels playing as you hover around the menu. It’s all standard stuff you’d expect from a menu, but one offering caught my eye straight away… [CREATE] Wow! I didn’t know Metanet was going to include an editor. This is where games of this genre blossom. Allowing total creative freedom to its players to build and share levels ensures re-playability once you’ve nailed the main game’s offerings. My first design had to be connected to P+L, so that’s what I did. A small time trial level with a sting in its tail! Quick and snappy, I thought, something that you could easily see what you had to do, a simple run to the exit, but with the lure of some extra time pick-ups off route. Do you just go for the exit, or do you perfect your Ninja control to grab extra seconds to boost your finishing time? The Punk and Lizard level is published, so I urge everyone who plays N++ to browse for it and let’s get a leader board going.
So we’ve got a game with a simple goal, get to the exit. Nothing new there, just like it’s single screen levels from a golden age of gaming, but don’t be fooled by its visual approach or it’s familiarity. N++ has at its core a fiendish heart, one fuelled by that ‘one more go’ addiction. From playing my first few levels I just couldn’t stop. Playing on a big screen is a treat. The basic matchstick Ninja is animated beautifully and the explosions and smoke trails from the homing rockets are exquisitely done. Add to this a selection of visual screen modes that allow you to change the overall colour of the game to suit your preference, with an additional handful to unlock.
N++ has you controlling the afore mentioned Ninja (the N in N++), a stick soul from the future, a 2D future. Time is the enemy here, every level rated against how fast you can get to the exit. Getting to the exit is one thing, but where would the fun be if that’s all you had to do against the clock? There’s unlocking the exit for starters. Early levels will have the door switch placed nearby, but the more advanced levels will see you having to unlock doors to get access to the exit door switch, all while avoiding mines, turrets and drones. To assist you in your quest, dotted around each level are a quantity of gold blocks. These add valuable seconds to your countdown timer, which could provide you just enough extra time to escape, or they can be collected to give you an even faster finishing time on the simpler levels. Climb those leader boards, Ninja! With 125 levels alone in just the Solo Intro episodes, this is a game that not only has you wanting to perfect your run or gold collecting on a single level, but being able to master ALL levels within each episode – that’s a staggering additional 950 levels to get through! And remember this is just the SOLO mode. CO-OP is offered as 4 player local only, no online, so unless you have real mates and a few spare controllers, you’re out of luck. This game mode is for the hardcore as you will need proper teamwork to succeed. I wonder if online co-op will be a thing if N++ is a success? RACE mode rounds out the play options. Race against an opponent locally, build your bonus throughout each race. Do you go for the exit or collect gold as the first to the exit enables sudden death for the other Ninja. All that valuable time you’ve collected depletes rapidly; run out and BOOM!
Triangle is your friend. Just like the classic OlliOlli games, having a quick restart is a godsend! Yes you’ll be swearing like a trooper, but you’ll never get fed up, as you are straight back into the level, no loading times, nothing. Stay focused, Ninja!
The controls become second nature after a few goes. One thing, though, I’d recommend using the D pad and not the stick. This is a game you need direct left and rights, not to mention there are real physics at work here. You can feel it when you drift through the air after a jump. You have a degree of after-touch on your Ninja, and gentle and violent use of the jump and direction buttons will alter how much you affect the Ninja’s positioning. It’s definitely a system Metanet has worked to perfect, and it shows. I was looping through the air like a discarded plastic bag at first; now I’m honed like an acrobatic thing that does acrobatics better than other acrobatic things that don’t do acrobatics as well. For some reason the old arcade game Legend of Kage springs to mind…
N++ offers instant gratification. You’ll know instantly if it’s a game for you. It’s up there with OlliOlli 2 and Velocity 2X, but also, N++ is a game you’ll be playing years from now due to the addictive nature and the simply awesome in-game editor. A quick game, or a long session, it can be played any way you want and if you can play Co-op, I’m pretty sure this will be the party game of the year. I can’t wait to unlock more hidden features.
GORGEOUS, REWARDING, ADDICTING….in a word ANOMALOUS!
Northlander Rating — 10++/10